David Horowitz pens a terrific article about the McGovernite influence on the Democratic Party, including his own role in that movement. It's well worth reading. It provides a firsthand history of the 'Peace Movement'.
The McGovern Syndrome: Surrender Is Not A Peace
Dec. 27, 2004
On Christmas Day former Senator & former presidential candidate George McGovern wrote a letter to the editor of the Los Angeles Times (& probably many other papers) calling for an American surrender in Iraq. George McGovern hasn’t been in the headlines for three decades & his name consequently may be unfamiliar to many. But no one’s had a greater or more baleful impact on the Democratic Party & its electoral fortunes than this progressive product of the South Dakota plains.
The McGovernite policy is the policy that inspired Howard Dean in this election. It's safe to say that that mindset has had a longlasting negative impact on the Democratic Party. In effect, McGovernite policy shaped Carter's impotent foreign policy, booted out such noteworthy Cold Warriors as Scoop Jackson & now gives rise to the Michael Moore, Wes Clarks & Howard Deans of the wimpy wing of the Democratic Party.
The leftward slide of the Democratic Party, which has made it an uncertain trumpet in matters of war & peace, may be said to have begun with the McGovern presidential campaign of 1972, whose slogan was "American come home," as though America was the problem & not the aggression of the Communist bloc. The McGovern campaign drew in the rank & file of the anti-Vietnam left much as the anti-Cold War Henry Wallace Progressive Party campaign of 1948 & the Howard Dean anti-Iraq campaign of 2004. McGovern himself was a veteran of the Wallace campaign &, virtually all the leaders of the anti-Iraq movement, including most of the Democratic Party leaders who supported it are veterans of the anti-Vietnam campaign.
Calling the Democratic Party "an uncertain trumpet in matters of war & peace" is a perfect explanation for Kerry's dilemma this past presidential election. He couldn't be a hawk because that would alienate his McGovernite/Deaniac supporters but he couldn't be a dove because the vast majority of American voters aren't dovish.
There is, however, a substantial number of passifists/peace activists in Iowa, which really set in motion Kerry's capturing the Democratic presidential nomination.
I’ve lived this history as both spectator & actor. My parents were Communists, & my first political march was a Communist Party May Day parade in 1948 supporting the presidential campaign of Henry Wallace & the Progressive Party against the Cold War, which meant against America's effort to contain Communism & prevent the Stalin regime from expanding its empire into Western Europe. Our change was this: "One, two, three, four, we don't want another war/Five, six, seven, eight, win with Wallace in '48."
This campaign was the seed of the anti-war movement of Vietnam & thus of the political left's influence over the post-Vietnam foreign policy of the Democratic Party. The Wallace campaign marked an exodus of the anti-American left from the Democratic Party; the movement that opposed America's war in Vietnam marked its return.
As a post-graduate student at Berkeley in the early Sixties, I was one of the organizers of the first demonstration against the war in Vietnam. It was 1962 the organizers of this demonstration as of all the major anti-Vietnam demonstrations (& those against the Iraq war as well) was a Marxist & a leftist. The organizers of the movement against the war in Vietnam were activists who thought the Communists were liberating Vietnam in the same way Michael Moore thinks Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is liberating Iraq.
It's amazing to hear Mr. Horowitz pinpoint where the Michael Moore ideology started at but I think that's exactly what he's done. Terrorists are really just misunderstood freedom fighters in Moore's mind, just as the North Vietnamese were freedom fighters for Vietnam. Of course, it's impossible to logically explain how letting a domineering tyrant reign over a sizeable country is considered liberation but that's what Michael Moore & others are trying to do.
In 1968, Tom Hayden & the anti-war left incited a riot at the Democratic Party convention which effectively ended the presidential hopes of the Democratic candidate Hubert Humphrey. Humphrey, who was Lyndon Johnson's Vice President was a supporter of the war. This paved the way for George McGovern's failed presidential run against the war in 1972.
The following year, President Nixon signed a truce in Vietnam & withdrew American troops. His goal was "peace with honor," which meant denying a Communist victory in South Vietnam. The truce was an uneasy one depending on a credible American threat to resume hostilities if the Communists violated the truce. Three years earlier, Nixon had signaled an end to the draft & the massive national anti-war demonstrations had drawn to a halt. But a vanguard of activists continued the war against America's support for the anti-Communist war effort in Vietnam. Among them were John Kerry & Jane Fonda & Tom Hayden.
They held a war crimes tribunal, condemning America's role in Vietnam & conducted a campaign to persuade the Democrats in Congress to cut all aid to South Vietnam & Cambodia, thus opening the door for a Communist conquest. When Nixon was forced to resign after Watergate, the Democratic congress cut the aid as their first legislative act. They did this in January 1975. In April, the Cambodian & South Vietnamese regimes fell.
The events that followed this retreat in Indo-China have been all but forgotten by the left, which has never learned the lessons of Vietnam, but instead has invoked the retreat itself as an inspiration & guide for its political opposition to the war in Iraq.
Along with leading Democrats like party chairman Terry McAuliffe, George McGovern called for an American retreat from Iraq even before a government could be established to deny the country to the Saddamist remnants & Islamic terrorists: "I didn’t want any Americans to risk their lives in Iraq. We should bring home those who are there."
Explained McGovern: "Once we left Vietnam & quit bombing its people they became friends & trading partners." (L.A. Times, December 25, 2004)
Talk about revisionist history. That isn't just inaccurate, it's delusional & devoid of a factual basis. McGovern makes it sound like a friendly relationship & normalized trade relations were established within days of the sessation of bombing in Vietnam. That isn't delusional, it's an outright lie.
Actually that isn’t what happened. Four months after the Democrats cut off aid to Cambodia & Vietnam in January 1975, both regimes fell to the Communist armies. Within three years the Communist victors had slaughtered two & a half million peasants in the Indo-Chinese peninsula, paving the way for their socialist paradise. The blood of those victims is on the hands of the Americans who forced this withdrawal, John Kerry, Ted Kennedy, Howard Dean & George McGovern, & anti-war activists like myself.
Admitting to part of blame isn't commonplace but it's the right thing to do. The massacre of the Vietnamese & Cambodians that followed should be viewed as a shameful part of the Democratic Party's history but it isn't. Instead, it's a rallying cry for many influential people in the current Democratic Party.
It’s true that Vietnam eventually became a trading partner ("friend" is another matter). But this wasn’t "once we left & quit bombing its people." Before that took place, a Republican President confronted the Soviet Union in Europe & Afghanistan & forced the collapse of the Soviet empire. It was only then, after the Cold War enemy & support of the Vietnamese Communists had been defeated that they accommodated themselves to co-existence with the U.S.
The "blame America first" mentality so manifest in this McGovern statement is endemic to the appeasement mentality that the progressive Senator so typifies: "Iraq has been nestled along the Tigris & Euphrates for 6,000 years. It will be there 6,000 more whether we stay or leave, as earlier conquerors learned."
In McGovern's Alice-in-Wonderland universe, Iraq didn’t invade two countries, use chemical weapons on its Kurdish population, attempt to assassinate a U.S. president, spend tens of billions of dollars on banned weapons programs, aid & abet Islamic terrorists bent on destroying the West, & defy 17 U.N. resolutions to disarm itself, open its borders to UN inspectors, & adhere to the terms of the U.N. truce it had signed when its aggression in Kuwait was thwarted.
During the battle over Vietnam policy, thirty years ago, Nixon & supporters of the war effort had warned the anti-war left of the consequences that’d follow if their campaign was successful. If the U.S. were to leave the field of battle & retreat, the Communists would engineer a "bloodbath" of revenge & to complete their revolutionary design. When confronted by these warnings, George McGovern, John Kerry & other anti-Vietnam activists dismissed them out of hand. This was just an attempt to justify an imperialist aggression. Time proved the anti-war activists to be tragically, catastrophically wrong, although they’ve never had the decency to admit it. If the U.S. were to leave the battlefield in Iraq now, before the peace is secured (& thus repeat the earlier retreat), there’d be a bloodbath along the Tigris & Euphrates as well.
Ignoring reality seems to be a 'special skill' to pacifists like McGovern & Kerry. Also, no matter what Kerry did, he couldn't rid himself of the reputation of being on the wrong side of the biggest foreign policy issues of the past quarter century, whether it was his anti-Vietnam war protests or his protesting the installation of Pershing II missiles in Europe or his semi-protest of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The jihadists will slaughter our friends, our allies, & all of the Iraqis who are struggling for their freedom. Given the nature of the terrorist war we’re in, this bloodbath would also flow into the streets of Washington & New York & potentially every American city. The jihadists have sworn to kill us all. People who think America is invulnerable, that America can just leave the field of this battle & there’ll be peace, don’t begin to understand the world we confront.
Talk about a horrible set of options. According to McGovern's advice, we should stick our head in the sand & pretend that we aren't vulnerable to the terrorists' threats & we should pretend that terrorists wouldn't try & retake control of Iraq & we should believe that the brave Iraqi people, many of whom are yearning for true freedom, should be abandoned. If that's the best that the Democratic Party has to offer, then it doesn't have credibility on these matters.
Or if they understand it, they’ve tilted their allegiance to the other side. McGovern's phrase "as earlier conquerors learned," speaks volumes about the perverse moral calculus of the progressive left. To McGovern we’re conquerors, which makes the Zarqawi terrorists "liberators," or as Michael Moore would prefer, "patriots." The left that wants America to throw in the towel in Iraq is hyper-sensitive to questions about its loyalties but at the same time can casually refer to our presence in Iraq as an "invasion & occupation." It wants to use the language of morality but it only wants the standard to apply in one direction. There is no one-dimensional such standard, & a politics of surrender isn’t a politics of peace.
I think it's safe to say that that's the verbiage of lunatics. It's a good thing that President Bush's foreign policy is diametrically opposed to the principles of McGovern & Moore & Dean.